Poor Specimen Surf DVDs

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The Poor Specimen Story.
As told by Taylor Steele
Poor Specimen’s history begins back in 1988 in a video production class...

I had made a surf video for a class project called "Seaside and Beyond". I chose to make a surf video because my friends and I used to take turns surfing and videoing our sessions. We would surf for a half hour and then switch. One of us would come in, still wearing a wetsuit, and then film the other guys. I was sixteen then. The video was shot entirely at Seaside (Cardiff, Ca). That was back when a lot of pros surfed there. The local crew was Brad Gerlach, Colin Smith, Trevor Crist, Doug Silva, Todd Martin, and a young Rob Machado.

Rob and I became friends while shooting the video. He traveled to Hawaii ( I think his first time to the North Shore, Oahu) and I went over and shot him for my follow up video,"One Step Beyond". My second video was basically like "Seaside and Beyond" but with Hawaii shots. "Seaside and Beyond" didn’t really sell, so I hopped in my truck and went to every surf shop I could find from Santa Cruz on down. It still didn’t sell. Some shops wouldn’t even watch it. They told me "kids wouldn’t like a video that wasn’t slow motion water shots of places like Fiji or Tahiti". I was devastated. I thought about quitting. That’s when a Japanese Distributor came in and ordered enough videos to get me started on making a third video.

I was amped to start the new project! I started shooting in the early morning before my Jr. College classes. Rob asked if I wanted to come along on a surf trip to Puerto Escondido, Mexico. I was so stoked I didn’t even think to ask who else would be going. When I showed up I found out the crew was Kelly Slater, Brock Little, Ross Williams, Shane Dorian, Todd Chesser, Colin Smith, Kasey Kurtis, Pat O’Connell, and a dozen others. We got good waves and good footage. When I got home I talked my parents into letting me skip a semester at school and instead go live and film Hawaii.

Originally, I intended to stay with a friend on the North Shore, but that fell through as soon as I got there. Determined to stick it out,I bought a van and lived in that for a month.

Conan Hayes who let me stay at his house. Which was scary, dark, small, and smelled really bad. Shane Dorian used to stay there too. Every morning Shane would play Sepultera at full blast to get amped. I didn’t know what to think of Hawaii at that point. Eventually, Benji Weatherley’s parents were out of town and he invited me stay at his house on the beach at Pipeline. I never left. That house was the meeting place for all the surfers who are now famous. After three months in Hawaii, I moved back to San Diego and returned to school. I had enough footage for a new video that was to be called "Momentum."

It took six months for people to start paying attention to "Momentum". The only advertising was word of mouth. But eventually it did so well that I was able to pay my parents back (around $5,000), drop out of school, and go full speed ahead into a career as surf video producer and director.

The videos that followed were Momentum II, Focus, Good Times, Drifting, All for One, The Show, 8, Friday the 17, Reef @ Todos, and the Last Decade.

I also started making music videos for local bands Unwritten Law and Pivit. Both bands have gone on to acheive world wide recognition.The video for Unrwritten Law was nominated for Billboard’s music video of the year(1998)

During the filming for Good Times, in an attempt to make a better video, I hired another videographer. My plan was to get twice as much footage as I normally obtained in a year’s time. His name was Paul Santa Maria, "The Rookie". After Good Times I met a computer nerd..I..mean a genius named Jeff Motyll. His expertise helped to improve the videos overall quality. Along the way we have obtained the colorful crew of Tom Rulon (director of videoing and the video Bottom Line), Sam Yago (creative director), and Dave Emge (videographer).

For the future we will endeavor to consistently improve the quality of work we do. Never resting on our laurels, we are constantly upgrading our equipment and refining our skills as a video production company.

Thank you, Taylor Steele

All images and stories copyright © Poor Specimen/Surfproducts.com 1997-2013


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